The people of Kyoto are similar to British people I’ve been told. We’re polite, not friendly. We think a hollow offer is better than the impoliteness of allowing a conversation to end. ‘Well, you simply must stop by whenever you’re next in the area.’ ‘We should get together again and I’ll cook my famous lasagne!’ ‘I’ll get us a round next time.’
In what naive world does the recipient of this formality swallow its bitter untruths? In light of the recent barbarism affecting the island’s shores, of course they stick together, Sherlock and Holmes, Mary Shelly and Frankenstein’s Maker, and yet, our imperial history and frank coldness to other’s suffering is undeniable. Hospitality was always a make-way for gains, or avoiding losing face. A burden upon an unwilling host. What’s remarkable, and atrociously British, is we invite it on ourselves.
It’s as if we like to suffer our own personal torments. It’s ecclesiastical. We drive forward prolonging our terror with the face of a knowing, dry humour diverting from a ‘woe is me’ character to something deemed ‘good’ = although we hate it we can’t help but be ‘good’. Is this a noble spirit?
There’s a custom in Kyoto that brings this all to mind. A meal of rice with Ocha (green tea) poured over it is a specialty from the Kansai area, and particularly Kyoto city, there, it’s called ぶぶずけ (bubuzuke). If a visitor is offered this dish when he’s arrived at a friend’s house, without due notice, he knows he is certainly unwelcome. The offer of hospitality is a rebuff.
In the British reinventions of etiquette, we appear to pride ourselves on transparent self-flagellation. When the Japanese read the air, they barefaced shame the guilty into inaction.
It’s interesting how similar devices are utilised under different constraints.
A video from Kendrick’s latest. It has bright spots and slow burners, and all the while he’s had a real hot streak since GKMC, this can’t not come off as a disappointment. Away from the single Humble, and its bizarre video, this tune comes in a top 3 spot off the record.